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2. Everything Counts

You burn calories even when you aren't running, cycling, or swimming. You also burn calories via NEAT, which stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

That’s a wordy way to describe things like folding laundry, vacuuming, casual walking, gardening, and more. They’re not exercise, but they do get you moving and burn calories.

Regular exercise is still crucial, but you may find it easier to bump up these types of activities than to add additional trips to the gym or 40-minute power walks.

3. Crunching the Numbers

Most devices either have a place for you to log what you eat, or they link with an app that does. That allows you to see how the calories you swallow compare to the calories you burn.

Sure, it's a lot of data entry, Muth admits. But just as with exercise, people who log their food are more successful at losing weight.

Usually the data entry gets easier with time. Once you've figured out the calorie count for a food, it'll be stored in your device. That means within a few weeks you'll be able to track most of your favorites quickly.

4. While You Were Sleeping

When you get more and better sleep, you're less likely to overeat and more likely to stick to your fitness and diet program, Muth says. Plus, too little sleep is linked with weight gain.

The tried-and-true way to get a good night's sleep is to set a regular bedtime, turn off distractions, and plan for 7 to 8 hours.

Trackers show how long you've actually slept. You might think you're getting 7 hours when you're only asleep for 6 1/2 hours.

Some wearable fitness trackers tell you how well you sleep. "That insight may inspire (or compel) you to make changes to try to improve sleep quality or duration," Muth says. Even if you’re in bed for 8 hours, your device may show you’re getting less than 7 hours of restful sleep. Ask yourself what’s interfering with your sleep. Using a smartphone or tablet right before bed? A pet on your pillow?

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